May 17, 2012
Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) is investing seven billion Br in the first plant in Ethiopia that will manufacture polyvinylchloride (PVC) and other industrial chemicals.
The plant will be set up just outside of the capital city of Tigrai state on a 48ht plot of land at a place called Mai Mekden, near Messebo Building Materials Production Plc in Tigray Regional State. The area has large deposits of limestone.
The plant is designed with an annual production capacity of 60,000tn, using a production method known as the limestone to calcium carbide to acetylene (LCA) route.
A little more than a year ago, EFFORT floated the first tender for the plant, with a capacity of 40,000tn a year. Many international bidders were said to have responded, but the tender was cancelled. It floated another tender last Sunday, May 6, 2012, just for the consultancy service for the execution of the project, with the plant capacity raised to 60,000tn, annually.
PVC resin is a white powder commonly used to produce thermoplastics. It is a raw material that can be made into products with a wide range of properties from soft and flexible to light and rigid, including blood bags, windows, pipes, and furniture.
Various additives determine the outcome. The ingredients include heat stabilisers, lubricants, and fillers.
In Ethiopia PVC resin is used in plastic factories to produce hoses, pipes, and boots. Some of the other chemicals to be produced by the plant are to include caustic soda, calcium hydrochloride, acetylene, chlorine, calcium carbide, and hydrochloric acid, according to an expert close to the feasibility study.
"The chemical reaction through which industrial chemicals, including PVC resin, are produced is highly sophisticated and capital intensive. There are some domestic producers of some ofthe chemicals, but we do not have a manufacturer of PVC resin in Ethiopia," said Tewolde Gebremichael, a chemical engineer at Plastech Plc, a private factory that manufactures PVC windows and doors. "We have been importing the PVC resin from petroleum producing countries."
The establishment of the new plant will not only save hard currency but also fuel the growth of domestic manufacturers that depend on industrial chemicals, according to Girma Alemu, finance manager of Oromia Pipe Factory Plc, a state company that manufactures various PVC pipes.
Ethiopia's import of resin in 2010/11 was 38,244tn, worth 75.2 million dollars, according to the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority.
The new chemical plant will be EFFORT's 14th subsidiary and third industrial company. The other two in the industrial sector are Messebo Building Materials Production Plc and Mesfin Industrial Engineering Plc, both of which are expected to benefit from the products of the new company to be set up.